Fast-casual set to outperform all others.

Consumers' use of restaurants and retailers for social catering found three-year compound annual growth rates projected at 5 percent or better for several market segments, according to Technomic's Parties Off Premise Study.

Fast-casual restaurants are poised to outperform all other players, with projected growth at 12 percent, followed by quick-service sandwich restaurants (8 percent) and club stores (7 percent). As a group, restaurants now capture four times the revenue of retailers for these occasions, $19.3 billion versus $4.0 billion.

While limited- and full-service restaurants hold the strongest shares of this market (36 percent and 34 percent, respectively), they appear to be taking share from independent caterers and retail foodservice operators.

Other interesting findings:

  • At $27.5 billion, the size of the consumer catering opportunity is significantly larger than similar opportunities with business-to-business users (corporate/pharmaceutical representatives), estimated at $15.8 billion.
  • Twenty percent of surveyed consumers would now consider fast-food restaurants as a source for at-home catered occasions, compared to just 7 percent in 2009. In contrast, warehouse clubs have slipped 7 percentage points in shoppers' minds, from 26 percent in 2009 to 19 percent.
  • Social catering occasions can provide a consistent stream of business from core customers. While seasonal peaks are evident for specific occasions, the majority of users average more than two of these purchases each month.